Last Moon

By Caitlin Jayne R.

Journey II: Encounter


The cheers from the crowd picked up as the announcer declared the participants for the final battle. Deiji Moran from Enri in the East - a swordsman that no one in Daru had ever heard of before - had managed to fight his way through the entire tournament, up to the final. His opponent, of course, was Gen Sahn, from a long line of tournament champions. The two men walked up to the doors of the arena, stepping inside at the same time, almost as if it were choreographed. The doors slammed behind them with loud clangs, and the two made their way to the center of the arena, bowing stiffly to one another.

The announcer's voice was almost lost as the crowd became even louder, escalating to what sounded like a roar. Amongst it, no one couldn't even pick up on the cheering of a little boy, although he was easy to spot. Millian Sahn, a boy of a mere seven years, stood by the balcony overlooking the arena. His enthusiastic cries of, "Papaaaaa!" were lost in the noise that the rest of the crowd made. Not that he minded; Millian was just so proud to be here, finally watching his father participating in the tournament that had last occurred three years before his birth. His father had fought and won in it that time as well, and little Millian was absolutely sure that the result was going to be the same this time; there was no way that his dad was going to lose against some guy who just came out of nowhere. He may have been able to fight all the way to the finals, but that was enough glory for him; there was no chance - no chance at all - that he would be able to defeat Millian's dad.

The announcer's voice rang out, signaling for the two men to begin their battle. As their swords clashed together, Millian looked on with obvious excitement in his bright, childish eyes. There was absolutely no worry in them at all. He knew that his papa was going to win for him, no matter what. Behind him, Millian's mother sat, her expression just as excited, but tinged with worry from the idea that her husband could possibly lose.

He didn't, of course. Deiji had barely managed to land a blow when Gen delivered the finishing stroke. Somewhere within the booming cheer of the crowd, the announcer could just be heard, declaring the result of the match that people already knew; the Sahn family's undefeated streak still ran strong.

--

There were loud shouts, cries of pain and raucous laughter in the air as thirteen-year-old Aidan wrapped his arms around a struggling twelve-year-old Millian's waist. The boy attempted to bite his friend, but couldn't quite reach

"Aidan! Aidan, let go! Mama's out there and I need to help her! I need to help everyone while dad's gone!" Of course, his request went unheeded and only resulted in the arms around him tightening further.

"Just stop it, Millian! You know that you're still just a kid. There's real warriors out there and if you do go, then you're going to be killed! Just stay here with me; don't you dare leave me all alone." He felt the blonde's nose against the back of his head, and knew that Aidan had buried his face in his hair. Millian clenched his hands and spoke through gritted teeth. He could smell smoke and blood and it made him sick. Those bastard attacking them... they'd waited. They'd waited until just a day after Gen Sahn left on mercenary business; waited until the most famed swordsman and their biggest threat had left the village before attacking. Millian knew that it was a mistake on their part, because despite not having Gen to help, most of the villagers, women or men, were capable with weapons. Still... still, without their strongest fighter, there was a severe dent in their forces.

And Aidan wouldn't let Millian help.

"Don't be so SELFISH, Aidan! What about mama? What if she gets hurt? I'll never forgive you, ever!"

The blonde's hold on Millian changed somewhat, from a captive hold to what felt like a tight hug. They were currently hiding under Aidan's house, able to see some of the action through slits in the wood. All of the children under sixteen had been instructed to hide while the adults fought the battle, and Aidan had forced Millian to hide with him.

" ...I am selfish, Milli." Despite the chaos outside, Aidan's voice had softened and the words he whispered tickled his best friend's ear, "Because if I let you go and you get hurt, I could never be able to forgive myself, ever. So that's why..." He broke off there, and Millian had the strangest feeling that he was crying, though no more sound came from his mouth.

Millian cried too.

--

As he drifted awake, Millian expected the screams from his memory to fade as his consciousness returned. It confused him when they didn't and he wondered for a moment if he were still dreaming. But no, he could feel the fading heat mixing with the cool of the evening breeze through his half-open bedroom window. He could feel the sweat on his back, left over from his nightmare. It was getting dark outside, and he was surprised that he'd managed to sleep for so long...

Shaking the remaining drowsiness from his mind, he walked over to the window, looking out across the village. His heart ground to a halt, and his stomach flip-flopped.

This was still a nightmare. It couldn't be happening again. Not just after his father had left. Last time they'd been able to drive the attacking bandits off, but with so many deaths and injuries it had barely felt like a win. And if it happened again, Millian didn't know how the village would take it. There were more children and elderly this time; the number of people able to fight were far fewer than during the previous attack.

And he couldn't help them. He couldn't pick up a sword. He couldn't fight with it. He just couldn't. He couldn't. He was useless. Useless. Stupid, useless Millian who won't fight anymore.

But maybe there was something else he could do?

He ran for the staircase, almost slipping on the wood in his socks. There was no time to put shoes on, so he just ripped them off and ran out in bare feet. The cookies from that morning still lay on a tray in the oven, untouched. This time nothing had been set on fire, but he could still hear shouts, children crying, and yells of pain... He needed to help... but how? How was he supposed to help fight off a group of attackers if he couldn't use a weapon? Millian cursed, tears of frustration stinging his eyes.

The group attacking was smaller than last time, and they seemed far younger, but that didn't change anything; they still had weapons, and people were going to lose their lives. It seemed as if their assailants were already robbing their houses before even finishing off the villagers. They were disgusting. Killing and stealing to get what they wanted. Someone violently shoved him, trying to push him away from the doorway of his house. Millian let out a small gasp of fear. Was he going to die already? Damn it! He'd been too busy getting caught up in old memories, and now he was going to lose his life. He was going to die because he still couldn't handle the memory of the last riot. The attack which had taken his mother's life from him.

The person who had shoved him was a young woman with a determined face. She held a sword in her right hand, but didn't raise it against him.

"Get outta my way, little boy." Her voice had a hiss to it, and she reminded Millian somewhat of a snake, "Unless you favor the idea of losing your life." And then she shoved him again, and her sharp elbow connected with his stomach. He stumbled and fell, a mere few meters away from the entrance of his house. In his winded state, all he could do was half watch the woman disappear inside and half try to get his breath back.

The sounds of swords ringing against one another sounded close by him, and he could tell from one of the voices that one of the participants in the fray was Mr. Euan; the keeper of the small and only shop in Merriden. Millian knew him quite well, and was aware that he was a single parent and had one young son...

And that boy... that boy was depending on his father's survival.

Millian struggled to his feet, clutching at his abdomen and trying to ignore the pain from where the woman had jabbed him. He turned to face Mr. Euan, and if the situation hadn't been so desperate, he probably would have been stunned his attacker's appearance. He couldn't see too well in the twilight, but his hair was incredibly long and flowed behind him as he moved. It was silver in colour. His clothes were rather elegant for a robber; he wore a black under shirt with red trimming that came up to the middle of his neck, and over the top of that, a black jacket.

He was certainly beuatiful, and only seemed to be in his very early twenties. However Millian refused to muse upon the man's looks right now; other, more important, things were at hand.

The man's expression was smug; he was winning against Euan easily, not having to put in the slightest bit of effort. It was true that Euan was no longer young and didn't use a sword regularly anymore, so of course he'd have some trouble.

Their weapons clashed a few more times, before the outsider delivered the blow that would win him their fight.

"You're a disgusting bastard." Euan growled at the swordsman as his weapon went flying from his hands. It landed by Millian's feet, but neither of the men paid any heed to him, "You have no honor."

The man just raised an eyebrow at him, and he positioned his sword in front of the old shop keeper's throat, "Is that so? I think you're just jealous because," He paused for a brief moment, pressing the blade closer to Euan's neck, almost hard enough to make it bleed. "You lost." He continued, "But perhaps if you were to beg me for your life, I might spare it? Otherwise I'm afraid I'm still going to see you as a threat and then, I'll have to kill you."

Millian's heart clenched. He knew Euan knew all the people of his village well enough. None of them - not a single one - would beg to be spared. They were all far too proud for their own good, and that sin would be their downfall. It pained him to know that Euan would not plead with this murderer, not even for the sake of his own child.

But to beg and then still be killed was possibly the most humiliating end that anyone could even consider. And it was true, this awful man had only said that he 'may' be merciful. So even if Euan were to beg, it was possible that his life may still be forfeit. And then, he would have died a coward's humiliating death, and Millian knew that the man couldn't take that.

The swordsman could see it too, in Euan's eyes. He stared into the face of his would-be killer, his own expression proud and fearless. The man sighed and shook his head, but Millian doubted that he was truly sorry.

"Well, if you really do refuse to back down I apologize, but I'm going to have to take your life now."

Millian gritted his teeth; he was on the verge of crying. How could he be so utterly useless? He couldn't even save a fellow villager's life because of his own irrational fear of picking up a sword. And that child Euan's already motherless child was soon to be without a father as well. At the tender age of six, he would be orphaned, only two years after losing his mother.

Millian felt sick. Could he truly do nothing? Was he really

Unconsciously, his hand brushed over, and closed around Euan's heavy, discarded sword. He was stunned; so stunned that he'd actually managed to pick it up, he almost didn't move. But the man in black was taking a step back from Euan, ready to-

"Don't you dare move another inch!" Even Millian was surprised by the ferocity in his own voice; he'd never sounded so commanding, so angry, in his entire life, "Are you really such scum? Would you really murder an unarmed man?

The swordsman turned, and Millian held Euan's blade firmly in front of himself, with both hands. The stranger's eyes glinted, and a grin split his face. Millian noticed, in the faded light, that he had beautiful teeth.

"Oh! You're CUTE."

Millian gaped, but fortunately kept a firm hold on his weapon. Euan had already taken this as his cue to bow out, and go to find another weapon. This battle belonged to the Sahn heir now. There was no need for Euan to be involved any longer.

Millian finally found his voice, and replied to the man fiercely, "Thank you, but I'm a boy."

However, the only response he received was a chuckle and the swordsman shook his head, tossing his long, glossy hair about his shoulders, "You think I didn't know?"

Millian shook the surprise off. It didn't matter what his opponent was erm interested in; he only had one thing to worry about.

Winning.

It had been a long time since he'd held a sword, but somehow it felt so natural in his hands, almost as if he'd never stopped using it. He readied himself for the coming battle, taking an offensive stance. He could tell that his soon-to-be assailant was ready as well, but for the life of him, Millian couldn't read the mans intentions. He was obviously able to hide them well. But Millian could too.

"So, do I get a name before I beat you into the ground?" He asked, sounding far more confident that he really was. "Or will your grave have to be unmarked?"

"Cute and feisty. This is my lucky day." The man chuckled, "I see. My name is Senjuu Adalair. Heard of me, I presume?"

Millian had. Senjuu Adalair was possibly the most infamous rogue swordsman on the continent, mainly because of his ability to evade the monarchy and law. He was known for attacking and robbing travelers and villages without warning, and although the kills he made were few, it was said that he wasn't afraid to do the deed. This had certainly been proven true by what Millian had seen tonight.

Senjuu's band was apparently made up of people mostly in their teens, who he trained to use swords just as well as he was able to. He was also said to be highly skilled and extremely dangerous. Of course, no one had mentioned anything about him being a huge flirt, but that sort of thing wasn't very important.

Despite all this, Millian lied to him shamelessly, "I'm sorry, doesn't ring any bells. But perhaps you've heard of me? Millian Sahn."

Senjuu's eyes widened with recognition, but just as quickly as the shocked look had come, his smug smirk reappeared, "I'm sorry." He parroted and his voice was mocking, "Doesn't ring any bells. But now that we know one another, shall we stop wasting time and get down to business?"

His first attack was quick, brutal and without warning. If Millian had lacked quick reflexes, he would have been taken out instantly. Instead, he jumped back and parried, before taking a swing of his own, equally as violent. Senjuu obviously wasn't stupid though; he wasn't underestimating him at all. The expression of ease he'd flaunted before the battle had left his face, and one of grim concentration had taken its place.

The clang of their swords connecting over and over again rang in the rapidly approaching night, and Millian forgot about everything else; the now-chilly air, the other battling villagers, his previous fear of picking up a sword to fight, and the painful memories of his mother's death.

All he could think about right now was his enemy; Euan's sword in his hands felt more like an extension of his body than a tool, and he used it as if he'd practiced with it every day of his life.

Any cockiness that had been left in Senjuu disappeared as he realized that he wasn't in control anymore. It had been a long time since it had last happened, but right now he, he realized, he didn't have the advantage. Right now, he had been reduced to fighting for his life.

Millian's face was a contortion of concentration and anger. His speed was phenomenal, and it was getting harder and harder to parry his blows. Pretty soon, he'd--

Senjuu missed a block, and Millian's sword sunk deep into the soft flesh of his stomach. The two stopped, as the rogue swordsman's weapon fell from his grasp. He looked down to where blood was beginning to splash from beneath his scarred clothes and it was only a matter of seconds before the pain kicked in. Alerted by Senjuu's agonized cry, his nearest accomplice rushed to his side, a look of panic on his young face, suddenly blind to everything but his leader's pain.

"Master Senjuu!"

Blood was beginning to pour from the wound; Millian has managed to hit him in such a way that it had done a life-threatening amount of damage. The blade had bitten deep.

'I'm going to die'

"Master Senjuu!"

The pain was unbearable, but before he allowed himself to fall to his knees, he managed to choke to his subordinate, "You know the rules" And with those four words he crumpled to the ground like a broken doll.

The conflict on the face of the boy as he looked upon his leader was almost heart-wrenching, but he finally turned with one last pained look at the man bleeding on the ground, and fled, yelling at his other comrades to retreat.

Senjuu lay there for a while, still conscious, but growing weaker with each moment. Perhaps he was finally going to die after all those near brushes with death. Finally, he was going to lose his life to a member of the Sahn family. It was probably quite a respectable way to pass being murdered by a member of the continent's most respected household

He could see the feet of people scurrying around the village from his position upon the grass, and still feel the pain of the wound in his stomach, but everything was getting fainter and fainter. He couldn't even tell his group from the villagers now, and everything far away from his eyes was blurry and now things were getting black. So this was finally it, huh. After ten years of dangerous living, after countless wins, and several losses, he finally wasn't going to make it

He could've sworn that the last thing he felt before he passed out was someone else's warm embrace

And then, blissful, painless nothingness.


Senjuu Adalair: (Sen-jew Add-a-leer)

Age: 20 years

Appearnce: Silver hair (Long, kept loose), blue eyes

Likes: Swords, sword fighting, Millian (Ehehe), old legends, sunsets

Dislikes: Arrogant people (Um...), being called useless, bad or cruel parents

Birthday: March 26th

Seme points: Six out of ten

Bio: Senjuu is a rather infamous rogue swordsman, from down in the south. For about three years, he's been recruiting somewhat youngish people and training them up. They live by robbing from villages, and sometimes from mugging passerbyers. They don't aim to kill, but make no mistake, if you try to fight back, he and his group don't have problems with doing it. Senjuu's your typical arrogant seme with a concealed past. He likes flirting with other boys (He's gay and doesn't care to keep it in the closet), but tends to get differing reactions. He also doesn't know when to cut it out. He's a nice guy underneath, but his morals are a tiny bit screwed up. Senjuu comes from the snowy southern island called Enri, but he hasn't lived there for about a decade.

Character secrets: Originally, Senjuu was the last character to join the party, but I like arrogant seme guys way too much. So when Millian became the main character, Senjuu was moved along to number two. He's been given a much more important role now, and there are far more characters connected to him. Originally he just showed up (He was going to enter the tournament at Daru, but he can't in this version, because he's been banned, due of his law-breaking habits), but he acted the same way, and was an actual swordsman instead of a rogue. (Though the way he fought back then was probably a bit questionable, no matter what he was supposed to be...). Somehow, his character design is the one that caused me the most grief. It took a long time to draw him out, and then when I was remodeling, I decided to start again. And still haven't finished.

--

Aidan Luca: (Ay-din Loo-kah)

Age: 18 years

Appearance: Dark blonde hair (Short, wears a headband), blue eyes

Likes: Spending time with friends, fishing, magic

Dislikes: Guilt, Senjuu

Birthday: September 12th

Bio: He's been best buddies with Milli since longer than either of them can remember, up until a little while before Millian was to turn 17. He's a pretty responsible and reasonable guy, and hates making enemies. Aidan is usually calm and confident, and doesn't mind letting people hear his opinion (Although, he also knows when to stop). He shows his emotions through his hands a lot. He lives alone, because his mother and father moved to Daru kingdom when he was 16, but he chose to stay in his house. They're on good terms and see one another often.

Character secrets: Aidan started off as one of those random NPCs in Merriden village. At the time, he was named 'Teenage boy 1'. He was only going to have two lines. The first one was, '...' and the second one was, 'Um... hi, Millian'. Anyway, his strange quirks are based upon myself, though his personality couldn't be more different.